Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce and Spring Vegetables

Lately it seems as though many food bloggers are jumping into spring flavors – lots of citrus and lemon…spring vegetables…I think we’re all a little *over* those winter soups and stews. Then again, it’s still cool enough for casseroles ¬†(or at least it is in my neck of the woods). Okay, okay, and tomato soup. But that’s besides the point ūüôā

I knew once the weather started to “turn” that I too was in the mood for a light pasta with plenty of fresh, spring vegetables. I’m not really one for alfredo and cream sauces as I feel they’re so thick, heavy, and pretty terrible for you – much to the dismay of my husband. I was really pleased to come across this recipe from Cooking Light – they’re constantly working on lightening up dishes without sacrificing flavor. Thus, a cream sauce that was ‘lightened up’ would please both the palates and waistlines in our home!

Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce and Spring Vegetables

adapted from Cooking Light

  • 8 ounces¬†uncooked¬†rotini or fusilli (aka ‘curly pasta’)
  • 1/2 lb asparagus – woody ends snapped off, and sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup¬†frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 tbsp¬†butter
  • 1¬†garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup¬†vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp¬†cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup¬†heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons¬†fresh lemon juice¬†(or the juice of one lemon)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • a dash of cayenne pepper, if you like
  • OPTIONAL: Parmesan cheese & dried parsley, for topping
  1. Cook pasta until just al dente. Add the sliced asparagus during the last minute of the pasta boil. Drain the pasta mixture and return to the pot; add the peas and mix around (the heat will thaw the peas).
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; melt the butter. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for a minute.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the broth and cornstarch until well-blended. Add this broth mixture to pan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  4. To the pan, add the cream, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add in the pasta & vegetables and toss to coat.  Serve immediately, with parmesan and parsley on top (if you like).


This dish was incredibly delicious and perfect for a lazy Sunday evening. It was fast and very easy to make. The cream and lemon flavors balance each other out really well and highlights the asparagus and peas. There were absolutely¬†zero¬†leftovers for the next day, so I’m not quite sure how well this would reheat – though I imagine it would be just as fantastic the next day.

I would make this again in a flash – good thing asparagus is still relatively in season! ūüôā

**Shared on the Homemade Mondays series at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity**

Happy Easter, 2014!

Happy Easter!

Since we have work tomorrow, we’re staying home for Easter. However, we are by no means spending it alone!

We’ve lived here long enough now that we have our own ‘family’ up here – wonderful friends & neighbors – who are going to be coming over today for dinner…and probably board games. This is the first year we’ve had anyone other than just the two of us at our home for a holiday meal, and we are¬†so excited!!!!!¬†Plus, we have a new dining room table that seats 6+ people…so what better way to enjoy it?

Here’s what’s for Easter dinner today over at our¬†house:

  • hot cross buns** (I’ve never had them before!)
  • salad**
  • glazed ham
  • garlic mashed potatoes**
  • green bean casserole**
  • corn casserole (Mike’s favorite)
  • pasta & sauce (a tradition from my family Easters)
  • beet horseradish for the ham (a tradition from my mother-in-law’s Easters)
  • Cake**

** – Our friends are bringing them over…one less thing to cook ūüėČ

I hope that you enjoy your Sunday today, be it Easter Sunday or just another Sunday. Enjoy!

Southwestern Quinoa Pilaf

I don’t know about you, but I am definitely a fan of quinoa. It’s just a great canvas for making great dishes – sort of like rice, but counts as a “superfood” and is just a little better for you. I hadn’t made quinoa in a while, and had about a cup left in a container in the pantry. Thankfully, I spotted this recipe over at Annie’s Eats several weeks ago, and it’s one of those recipes that you just can’t seem to get out of your head after you read about it.

It was a great side dish to accompany some chicken habanero patties that I had stashed away in the deep freeze. Dinner was delicious and filling, and there was enough quinoa leftover for lunch the next day.

Southwestern Quinoa Pilaf

adapted from Annie’s Eats¬†

  • 1cup quinoa, rinsed (you have to do this or else your quinoa will be bitter!)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp¬†chili powder
  • ¬ľ tsp cumin
  • ¬ĺ tsp salt
  • 1¬ĺ cups water
  • ¬Ĺ cup crumbled queso fresco or cojita cheese
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the quinoa and toast it stirring frequently, until it starts to sizzle a bit. Remove from heat & transfer the quinoa to a bowl.
  2. Put the pan back onto the burner and increase heat to medium.  Melt the butter and olive oil together.  Add the diced onion, chili powder, cumin and salt.  Cook until the onion begins to soften Рstir occasionally.
  3. Once the onions are nice soft, turn the heat up to medium-high.  Add the quinoa back to the pan and add the water, bringing the mixture to a simmer.  Cover and reduce the heat to low, creating a simmer. Cook for 18-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Mix in the corn and remove the pan from the heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 more minutes.  Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork.  Add the cheese, scallions and lime juice; toss to combine.


I could not find queso fresco at the store – they were out – so I had to substitute in cojita cheese. The saltiness of the cheese really complimented the dish, so it is a nice replacement if you can’t find the fresco. Corn was not in the original recipe either, but I think it really worked well in the pilaf. If you want to spice it up even more, add some crushed red pepper in with the spices. You won’t be disappointed ūüėČ

I have a feeling I’ll be making this a few times this coming spring/summer, once the grill is officially fired up for the season. Or, I may make it on a random Saturday; it could easily become a meal on its own. It’s quick, easy, and very flavorful!

Meal Plan 4/13-4/19

Where did this week go? Where is 2014 going? I can’t believe we’re almost midway through April! Almost all of the large snow piles are gone, the tulips and hyacinths are trying to come up, and we had birds chirping at 6am this morning. I’m doing my best to believe it’s spring, despite the weather forecast calling heavy rain tonight, switching over to snow at some point in the morning, 3-5″ when all is said¬†and done.¬†Huh?¬†How does that even compute? We’ll see what Mother Nature brings our way…

…in the meantime, he’re the game plan for dinners in our house this week.

Meal Plan for April 13-19, 2014

SUNDAY – Spaghetti & meatballs ūüôā

MONDAY РHabanero patties with quinoa pilaf and corn

TUESDAY – Beef stew

WEDNESDAY – Baked chicken with couscous and lemon-garlic broccoli

THURSDAY – I have yoga, so we’re having baked potatoes with any fixins we have laying around (I’m eyeing that can of Skyline Chili in the pantry)

FRIDAY – It’s Good Friday so we¬†probably shouldn’t eat meat. I’m eyeing pasta with asparagus & peas.

SATURDAY – No idea.

I DO¬†have some recipe posts on the way – honest! I’m a little backed up – so bear with me.

Have a wonderful Sunday! ūüôā

Foodie Penpals – March ’14

And another month of 2014 has passed. We have finally reached April – and while there’s still snow on the ground, I’m seeing small glimmers of spring popping up. I saw a few flocks of wild turkeys yesterday…the sun is melting the snow…I’m hearing more birds every day…so maybe by June all will be well again ūüôā

This post is a little late, as I took a¬†very impromptu roadtrip to Memphis, TN with some friends from college to see the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team play in the NCAA Elite 8. It was a¬†long trip but it was good to go with some of my very closest friends, and see others that I haven’t seen in years. What a wonderful, albeit exhausting, trip.

So without further ado ::cue drumroll::…March’s Foodie Penpal box! Our package this month comes from Colby in Connecticut. She put together a great package of lots of local items from her hometown, where she & her husband met, and more.

Thank you, Colby!

Thank you, Colby!

  • Her handwritten card has an old picture of her mainstreet from her hometown. It’s so pretty!
  • Ashlawn Farm coffee – This comes from a farm & roastery. So far my husband and I are really enjoying the blend that Colby sent us. Mmm…coffee..
  • Archie Moore’s wing sauce – We have not tore into this bottle just yet – but I absolutely cannot wait! Baseball season is upon us, as is the World Cup…so it will be used up quickly!
  • Sclafani Pasta – locally made in Norwalk, CT. She included some¬†Pamieri Marinara Sauce to go with it; it comes from the neighborhood near where she used to live. We ate this for dinner last night and it was delicious!
  • Foxon Park soda – Colby sent us the Root Beer & Birch Beer flavors. They were great!

Thank you, Colby, for the great package that you sent us! We have been enjoying it greatly and appreciate how locally-based it is ūüôā

Want more information on Foodie Penpals? Here’s a few details for ya…

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what‚Äôs in the box, to a fun recipe‚Ķuse your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don‚Äôt forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals¬†is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you‚Äôre a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Penpals¬†is open to US, Canadian & European residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. This is because things might get too slow and backed up when trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Risotto is one of my most favorite comfort foods; one I only discovered about four years ago. I’ve finally started to broaden my horizons and make versions other than my absolute favorite¬†recipe. This one was on my meal plan for a few weeks, as I had some spinach and sun-dried tomatoes that I really needed to use up. But because risotto takes a lot of time – it’s not a meal that you can quickly cook – I kept bumping it further and further back. Finally, I found a little bit of free time to make this version of risotto – I’m very pleased with the result, and I also feel that Liz will be especially relieved that I finally made it!

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

adapted from My Favourite Pastime

  • ¬†6-8 cups¬†stock/broth
  • 1¬†tbsp olive oil
  • 1¬†tablespoons butter
  • ¬Ĺ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups¬†Arborio rice
  • ¬Ĺ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups spinach, washed & shredded
  • 6 sundried tomatoes,¬†drained and chopped (mine were vacuum sealed, not in oil)
  • ¬Ĺ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • salt & pepper
  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil & butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the garlic and rice and stir for about 2 minutes until it just starts to brown a little.
  3. Add the wine and reduce the heat. Stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed.
  4. Add a cup of your stock to the rice, and stir. When the rice has fully absorbed the liqud, add more stock – a little at a time.
  5. One all the stick has been absorbed, your right should be nice and soft, with a creamy texture. Add the spinach and tomatoes. Add salt & pepper to taste, then add the parmesan cheese. Toss into the rice, and serve hot.


It’s a¬†colorful meal, isn’t it?

I will absolutely make this again, especially once CSA season rolls around¬†again¬†and I have plenty of fresh chard & spinach. If you don’t like parmesan, you can always change the cheese to mozzarella – I think that would taste just as great. I also wonder what this would taste like with a little lemon zest. I ended up taking the leftovers for lunch; I honestly don’t mind leftover risotto, unlike someone else I know ūüėČ

In the meantime, if you’re expecting yet another winter storm, I highly suggest putting this on the docket for dinner. It’s comforting, flavorful and warms you right up!


Meal Plan 3/23-3/29

This blogger right here is one happy Dayton Flyer this morning! ūüôā What a game!

Today is going to be a busy one – 3rd quarter grades to complete, an arrangement to finish, groceries to purchase, a garden planning meeting, and trivia. Busy busy busy…but spring break starts this coming Friday, so there’s a reward for all the madness. Then again, maybe I should call it Winter Break #2, since there’s still plenty of snow and ice.

I went to my first yoga class ever on Thursday, and I have to admit – I¬†loved it! I’m looking forward to going back this week. I’m really impressed with how intense of a workout it is – it’s considered “low impact”, but don’t let the word low fool you.¬†I also love how I mentally felt after class. Just…wow.

Week of March 23-29, 2014

LUNCHES: Salads, leftovers, soups

SUNDAY: Roasted turkey breast with mashed potatoes & asparagus

MONDAY: Going to Yoga ūüôā so Mike gets to make spaghetti squash with homemade pesto that *needs* to be used up.

TUESDAY: Crispy Beef with rice and cabbage (from the freezer)

WEDNESDAY: Chicken Cacciatore (third time’s the charm? Don’t worry, it never got defrosted). I’ve got my beginner band’s concert on this night so Mike is again in charge of the kitchen.

THURSDAY: The Sweet 16 Game! Who knows…

FRIDAY: I’m celebrating Spring Break in style! I bought some sea scallops on sale at the market last week, so I’m going to try my hand at Seared Sea Scallops with Linguine in a wine/herb sauce. It’s going to be awesome.

SATURDAY: Chicken habanero patties and salad. If we make plans this week for Saturday night, then I won’t take them out of the freezer.

A recipe post or two is on deck for this week as well (add that to my to-do list). Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone!


I don’t know about you, but I’m officially ready for all things green, and it’s not even St. Patrick’s Day anymore. I’ve bookmarked so many festive, spring-y recipes in the past three days alone that I may have to spend extra time in my kitchen once our water troubles are over, just so I can get into the spirit. I’m quite tired of the winter blues.

This year for St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to bake our corned beef brisket rather than boil with vegetables. In previous years, we always end up with a ton of leftover cabbage, and not a lot of the really flavorful ‘stuff’. ¬†Plus, since we’re grown-ups and had to work, neither of us could stay home and¬†drink¬†cook all day. Ah, those were the days…

…anyway, this was the recipe that I made to go along with our corned beef. We needed something tasty, yet easy to whip up – you all know how Mondays are! What’s even better is that I didn’t have to buy any cabbage – I had a half-head of it in my freezer, leftover from our CSA. It was the perfect amount needed to whip up this recipe for colcannon.


adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

  • 1-2 tbsp bacon bits
  • 2 lbs small red potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. In a pot, bring the potatoes to a boil. Continue until the potatoes are fork tender (around 15-20 minutes).
  2. Around ten minutes into the potato boil, heat the oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly browned.
  3. Add the cabbage and periodically toss as it cooks down. Add some salt & pepper as you go. Add the bacon bits and toss to combine. At this point, make sure to check the potatoes – if they are nowhere near done, turn off the cabbage so that it does not burn.
  4. Once the potatoes are finished cooking, drain and return them back to the pot. Add the milk, butter and a dash of salt and pepper; mash away!
  5. Add the cabbage mixture to the potatoes and mix well.
Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

I never really thought about putting bacon into colcannon until I found the original recipe for this post. It really adds a little something extra to the dish (and probably to my waistline, too). Obviously, you are more than welcome to omit the bacon if you so choose. I used bacon bits because that’s what I had in my refrigerator, and I didn’t really feel it was necessary to really grease up the skillet any more than I needed to (especially with all the plumbing issues we’ve been having).

This dish is delicious, easy on the wallet, and definitely not the worst thing you could consume on St. Patrick’s Day.

Meal Plan 3/16-3/22

Phew…what a week. It was definitely a hectic one – we’ve been having some issues with the city water lines this week due to the ridiculously cold weather. So, we’ve been trying to not dirty up as many dishes as we normally do. Therefore, you’re going to see a few repeats on our meal plan this week because we never actually got to cooking up the dishes – sorry to all of you who were patiently waiting for some new posts!

Week of March 16-22, 2014

LUNCHES: Leftovers, salads, soup etc. I also have some Lean Cuisines to go through in my freezer.

SUNDAY – Lunch: Broccoli Macaroni & Cheese. Dinner: Risotto with Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

MONDAY – It’s St. Patrick’s Day! Even though we’re not Irish…we’re having Corned Beef & Colcannon.

TUESDAY – Spaghetti Squash mixed with a combination of tomato, onion, mushroom & pesto. It’s all in my head right now, so hopefully on Tuesday it will really come to fruition.

WEDNESDAY  РKielbasa & sauerkraut, pierogi, & peas. AKA cleaning out the freezer.

THURSDAY –¬†My friend Jessica & I are going to yoga on Thursday :), so Mike gets to cook up some¬†Chicken Cacciatore that I had stashed away in the freezer. I threw all ingredients together & froze it so that if we had a busy night, we could thaw it & cook it. The best part is that I didn’t even save the recipe, nor do I remember the exact site it came from…oops!¬†

FRIDAY – Lemon-Basil Grilled Cheese Panini with Tomato Soup

SATURDAY – Roasted Turkey Breast with some sort of potato dish & veggie….TBD ūüėČ

Have a wonderful (and hopefully warmer) week!

Meal Plan 3/9-3/15

Hi everyone! I’m not quite sure where the last week went…but it sure went. It was my first week off from pep band & the start of spring concert season, so I suppose you could say I really enjoyed the extra free time. I have to admit, though – I didn’t make anything too ‘spectacular’ for dinner – we also went out to eat on Friday night because yours truly didn’t want to cook.

So, here we are. A new week, Daylight Savings Time; spring is trying¬†desperately to arrive in Northern Michigan and it’s going to be really interesting to see how long it takes for all this snow to melt. I’m so ready for warmer weather; I’ve even purchased a gardening book in anticipation of having another garden this year. I’m starting to forget what it looks like up here without snow.

I’ve decided to try and post our dinner plans for the week here, as a means of trying to plan ahead for the week and to make sure that I’m not constantly opting to go out to eat for dinner, “because we can”. I’ve also got a huge ‘Saved’ list on my Feedly & likes on WordPress that I’d like to start going through ūüôā

Week of March 9-15, 2014

Lunches: Sesame Noodle Salad, sandwiches, leftovers

Sunday – Lunch, leftovers or soup. Dinner is Sunday Night Pizza Night.

Monday – Buffalo Chili

Tuesday – Baked Chicken with Roasted Potatoes & a veggie

Wednesday – Baked Broccoli Macaroni & Cheese (I’m at honors band so Mike gets to make this one)

Thursday – Kielbasa, Sauerkraut, & pierogi (and a veggie of some sort)

Friday –¬†Risotto with Chard & Sun-dried Tomatoes

Saturday – Lunch, freezer food or soup. Dinner, TBD.

I suppose it’s time to head out to the grocery store…have a wonderful, relaxing Sunday!